Fred Fearnot's Revenge, or Defeating a Congressman

THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD
-OR-
The Mysterious Horseman
By ALEXANDER DOUGLAS
(A SERIAL STORY)

CHAPTER XXIII (continued).

Arrived at the entrance, Clement found the gates closed, but from the glare of light proceeding from the windows of the various houses it was evident that the "blades" were discussing what had occurred at the church.

Clement motioned to one of the men to come forward. The soldier advanced to the gate, and taking a bugle from his belt, sounded a long blast.

There was no mistaking it.

All in that Don knew what it was, and from the commotion which instantly followed it was evident that something of the kind was expected. Again the bugle was sounded.

Then the doors of the various hovels were carefully opened and the heads of some dozens of men were thrust out.

Again for the third time the bugle was sounded.

Clement rode up to the gate.

"In the name of the king," he cried, in a loud voice, "I call upon all here to surrender."

A loud, mocking laugh was the answer to this.

Suddenly a tall form jumped from a door step, and stood in the center of the alley.

There was no mistaking this form.

It was Bradbury.

That he was drunk could be seen by the way be endeavored to steady himself by the naked sword he held in his right hand.

"Who calls surrender?" he asked with a swagger which at another time might have been laughable. "Who calls surrender? Baugh! Who ever heard of any one calling upon the earl-the noble earl, I may say--to surrender?"

"I call upon all here to surrender in the king's name," cried Clement.

"Oh! Then I reply in the king's name that we will not. You call in the king's name? Baugh! Who am I, do you think? Look at me, this noble figure! Look at these clothes! I am the noble Earl of-hic! hic!-of-where did I leave off? Oh! the noble Earl of Saffron Hill. Let me tell you that I am a king's officer. Only lately I was created by the king himself Gentleman of the Dusthole. Am I to surrender? No!"

"Surrender in the king's name, or your life will pay your refusal," repeated Clement, sternly. "Surrender!"

"No!" replied Bradbury.

"No, we will fight!" cried another voice, and "No!" was repeated by scores of voices until it assumed the form of a loud scream. "Soldiers, open the gate," said Clement.

The two soldiers with the hammers advanced, but they had hardly struck a blow ere Bradbury, snatching a pistol from his belt, fired.

One of the solders fell back dead.

This shot was a signal for the others of the Den.

With pistol and musket they blazed away at the soldiers.

But with the exception of those with the hammers, the men were ordered out of harm's way.

Clement had a narrow escape.

A ball struck the horse between the eyes, and he dropped dead, nearly crushing Clement in his fall.

At last the gate gave way, and directly Bradbury saw this, he gave way and retreated in hot haste to one of the houses.

Directly the "blades" saw that the soldiers had obtained admission, their howls became terrific.

Like magic, the whole of the passage became filled with a roaring mob of frenzied wretches, armed with almost every kind of weapon.

Clement ordered the bugle to be again sounded.

Then he raised his hand for silence He might just as well have raised his hand to stop the raging of the sea.

Shots were fired from all points.

Seeing that it was useless to speak to them, Clement. drawing on one side, cried out:

"Soldiers, make ready, fire!"

A startling, crashing volley rang out and the awful shrieks which followed showed that nearly every bullet had found its billet.

While the combatants were still obscured from each other by the sulphurous smoke, Clement's clear voice again rang out:

"Charge!"

On rushed the men, and in an instant they had plunged into the howling mass.

Windows, doortways, the various intricate passages, and even the roofs of the hovel, now became crowded with men.

Clement saw that the vollev from his men's muskets had stricken down a large, number, but this seemed to have on]y had the effect of making the "blades" worse fiends than before.

They fought desperately, and no attention whatever did they pay to such of their companions who happened to be stricken down; therefore, if they were not shot dead, they were trampled to death. Clement had only his pistols and his sword with which to fight, and the former became useless after the first shots, for there was no time to reload.

Revolvers had not even been dreamed of at the period of which we write. His sword, howevcr, was of the finest steel, and it did terrible execution.

The soldiers fought bravely.

In vain did Clement look for Bradbury.

The rascal had vanished directly he sniffed danger close to him.

In the midst of the fight, and when there seemed little prospect of its coming to a speedy termination, a loud voice at the farther end of the passage, or alley shouted:

"Doors!"

Like a flash of lightning every man rushed to the various houses, leaving their dead and dying on the stone flags.

What this meant Clement was, of course, at a loss to understand. Fortunately, one of the soldiers knew, and rushing up to Clement, he hastily advised him to order his men back.

The unfortunate soldiers had met with severe loss. Ten of their comrades were lying dead.

Clement took the soldier's advice, and at once ordered his men to withdraw.

Not a moment too soon.

It was soon seen what "doors" meant.

In a few seconds the whole of the now thoroughly frenzied "blades" were seen upon the roofs of the various houses.

They commenced to fear up the tiles, slates bricks, anything, and these they sent over into the passage.

The deadly missiles came down like a shower of hail.

Had Clement not withdrawn his rmen, it is certain that every one would have been fatally injured.

Occasionally an excited wretch on the roof, in his maddened haste to throw what he had in his hands at the troops, missed his footing, and toppled over to meet with death.

For some time the soldiers had an advantage.

Under Clement's instructions, they loaded their muskets and fired at the wretches on the roofs. Every now and then a wild shriek told that a bullet had found its mark. How long this guerrilla-kind of warfare would have been kept up we know not.

Suddenly, above the reports of musket and pistols, and the crash of slates and bricks, a wild, awful cry was heard.

A cry which is almost always fearful to hear.

The cry of "Fire!"

There was a pause on both sides.

An ominous crackling was heard, and then from the window, of one of the houses in the very center of the place out rolled a volume of thick sulphurous smoke.

This was followed in less time than it takes to write it by long tongues of flame, which writhed and twisted their way with startling rapidity thorught every crevice, until the tongues joined themselves together and formed one vast bright sheet, which soon had reached half way up the house.

"Stand firm, my men!" cried Clement; "the place is ours, the whole Den will be burnt to the ground. Well, fire would clear the horrid hole far sooner than the State."

In a few more minutes cries of "Fire" resounded in every part, and the wretched occupants commenced to rush out.

Of course they ran toward the entrance of the Den.

By the side of his men stood Clement, his sword-now, alas! blunted and sanguinary-in his hand.

The soldiers clapped their pieces to their shoulders. The "blades" paused, horrified.

Behind them was certain death by fire-in front of them the bullets of the king's soldiers.

"Hold!" shouted a tall, muscular woman, as she raised her baby high over her head. "Would you shoot us all down? If we are to be shot or burnt, alive, at least take our children out of danger."

Now here was one instance that some of these wretches had still a heart. Here was one who was willing to die if her child were saved. Clement was touched at the sight.

"I give no orders to fire," he said, "if all of you throw down your arms."

Both men and women at once threw away their arms, and sullenly allowed a few of the soldiers to keep guard over them with loaded muskets.

In a stream they came up the various passages until outside the Den quite a large crowd had collected.

In the meantime, instead of decreasing, the wind had increased increased in violence, and the effect of this was, of course, to fan the flames until they became a raging furnace.

House after house caught, and then the flames seized upon the houses opposite.

It was now beyond a doubt that nothing of this filthy quarter, which for so long had been a foul blot on the city of London, would be left except a huge pile of blackened ruins.

Clement had closely watched every man who passed him, and had scanned his features, but, singular to say, nothing could he see of Bradbury. He questioned a few of the men, but elicited -nothing from them, except that no doubt he had escaped, as he usually did when particularly "wanted." With every minute the flames assumed greater proportions. Clement was about to turn away when a mighty shout arose. Every finger was pointed down the burning quarter.

Looking in the direction pointed out, Clement saw on the roof of one of the houses the figure of a man.

"Bradbury!" yelled scores of voices- "Bradbury! He will be burned alive!"

Bradbury it was.

Where he had been during the progress of the fire was a mystery. On the parapet of the roof he was, crawling along on his hands and knees.


(To be continued.)

Home Browse Other Texts Full Text Search Table of Contents for This Issue Previous Section Next Section
Home Browse Other Texts Full Text Search Table of Contents for This Issue Previous Section Next Section